If you're looking to buy a new car, you might be wondering whether a four- or six-cylinder engine is the right choice. Cylinders, as you may already know, are individual internal components in a car's engine. It's essentially the space in which fuel is burned and power is generated. While cars are available in a variety of engine configurations, the most common are four-cylinder and six-cylinder.
You can expect to pay more for a six-cylinder car. The actual costs vary depending on a number of factors, but it's not uncommon for dealers to charge 10% or 15% more for six-cylinder engines than four-cylinder engines.
Of course, the greatest difference between these two engine configurations is power. With more cylinders in which to burn fuel, six-cylinder engines generate more power than four-cylinder engines. The difference in power between these two configurations is substantial. A six-cylinder engine offers more torque, horsepower and ultimately more performance. For these reasons, many auto enthusiasts prefer six- or even eight-cylinder engines.
Because they generate more power, six-cylinder engines consume more fuel than their four-cylinder counterpart. The Honda Accord, for instance, offers about 23 miles per gallon (MPG) for city driving and 34 MPG highway driving for its four-cylinder engine. The six-cylinder version of this same car, however, offers 20 MPG for city driving and 30 MPG for highway driving. While the MPG difference may seem small, it can quickly add up over the course of several months or years.
Furthermore, four-cylinder engines are easier to maintain than six-cylinder engines. Most automakers recommend changing your spark plugs every 30,000 to 50,000 miles. With a six-cylinder engine, you'll have to replace six spark plugs -- one for each cylinder. Four-cylinder engines, however, only require four spark plugs. This also applies to fuel injectors, as each cylinder has its own dedicated fuel injector.
Susceptibility to Damage
On the other hand, six-cylinder engines are more susceptible to damage than four-cylinder engines. Because they feature more cylinders, there's a greater risk of a head gasket leak. The head gasket plays an important role in sealing the space between the engine block and head. When the gasket is breached, combustion gases, coolant and/or oil may leak. And because six-cylinder engines produce more power than four-cylinder engines, they are particularly prone to this problem.
Hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of the differences between four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines. Generally speaking, six-cylinder engines produce more power, but they also cost more to maintain. If you're looking to save money and want a vehicle that's easy to maintain, you may want to stick with a four-cylinder engine.